Over Friday and Saturday last week I did CGO Surgeries and coaching sessions with 16 different creative artists from London, UK, Montreal and Los Angeles. It is a time when each practitioner looks at the challenges they are having with their creative life and/or business, and we try to create a positive immediate way forward. It is a fascinating role to play in people’s creative journeys. Some I will never see again, but hopefully they have been helped; others may return after 2-3 years with new challenges; and sometimes they become CGO Coaching clients and we work on over 3months or more with their business.
There was time to see the amazing masterclass music hall maestro Jim Dale at the Vaudeville [please come back soon in another show for London and the UK], the explosive and middle-class-challenging Everyman at the National Theatre, a new solo show bringing Ada Lovelace back to her rightful place in the scientific hall of fame, and to celebrate with so many friends the birthday of a wonderful classical musician and solo theatre performer, Neyire Ashworth.
The weekend led me to think around 4 themes which are “our business” – things we can do something about. Byron Katie talks of our business, their business and god’s business – and challenges us to tackle our own stuff.
These weekends of surgeries and workshops are filled with giving energy out to help and encourage individuals to move forward. Just as the weekend is filled, for so many of the arts business, with performing your socks off to give joy (or emotional challenge) to an audience.
There is then something very lovely when you re-open the email on a Monday morning and get an email saying “nothing special to report, but i heard from [a publisher] that you’d been sweet about [my play] – so thank you for that!! hope all’s well” I’d been “sweet” about this leading UK playwright because it’s brilliant, and I loved seeing it a year or so ago, and couldn’t believe it wasn’t published or being done elsewhere. But Tim had heard back, and taken a moment to send me an email. That is so nice – and gives me phenomenal extra energy to go back out and do what I do. Make Connections and offer Creative Life Support.
Theme – Next time you can say thank you…just do it.
My second theme is – tackle your fear – Judi Dench features in the Stage this week about fear. Jim Dale talks of his fear in the wings every night he performs. And so many of my contacts talk of the fear of networking, asking someone for help, and just anything to do with selling their work. Part of coaching is to try to help people overcome that. I met a top flight Oboe player last night who is also training as a coach, and she will specialize is soloist performance fear in the classical world. I suspect I will be liaising with her on some workshops in time.
If you have a talent (writer, performer, director, musician, whatever it might be) then you can hide your light under a bushel, or you can realise a couple of helpful things about the world – a) most of the people you might meet actually want to know about your creative skills. b) most interviewers or audition panelists want you to be good – so they can hire you and c) and as the business guru Seth Godin says – you are a painter until you take your work and “ship it out”, then you become an artist.
Theme : However hard it is to be standing in the wings – we want to cheer you when you get centre stage.
My third theme is knowing who you are – and that can be a real challenge for the “multiple plate spinner” portfolio career, part-time actor / teacher / bar worker. The challenge is to understand the “brand” that you are offering to the person in front of you. We had a rich conversation at a workshop this weekend on whether you sell your own name (think Cameron Mackintosh presents) or your company name (think Adventures in Motion Pictures). I have the advantage that CGO is Chris Grady.Org – so its not too far away. But wow do I have a challenge describing to anyone what I do….and wow can I get tangled up with “and then I do this, and then I went there, and then I worked on this”. So set yourself a challenge – create one or maybe a couple of phrases which become a simple introduction to yourself – and avoid becoming a solo-show just answering a caring question “what’s your world, what do you do ?”
Theme: Know yourself and your business – and then find a way to nail it with a few phrases.
And finally – a bit of a circular loop really. Having realised that you are a creative with talent, and found the best way to describe it, the next step is identifying who might help you on your journey. This weekend I was the coach to a whole heap of people. They were helping themselves by exploring their own journey with the help of a few careful open questions. That may do the trick. Or you may need an amazing mentor, expert, guide, guru, or critical friend. In which case don’t delay. Think of the ideal person and ask them.
Theme: Experts don’t mind being asked for advice – just ask, and if they are helpful…(back to the top) …say thank you.
As I finish this blog I realise I have created an interesting circular journey.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write. And especial thanks to Terri Paddock and Mark Shenton for creating My Theatre Mates which now takes these blogs to a wider following. Hope you find this useful Cheers Chris